The blogs over the past several past weeks has resulted in a series of discussions that have primarily been instigated by points and counter points. While it may have provided entertainment for some, it has been a source of frustration for many.
In response to those that have repeatedly asked for Baha’i perspectives on the recent material posted, we must begin with the foundation of the recent exchanges, namely speech and individual freedom and rights. Baha’i resources are rich in this regard and the following is but a small sample of relevant material.
Bahá’u’lláh says that “the tongue is a smouldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison.” “Material fire consumeth the body,” He says in elaborating the point, “whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century.”
In tracing the framework of free speech, He again advises “moderation”. “Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation”, He states, adding: “As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure.”
Returning to the phenomenal characteristics of speech. Content, volume, style, tact, wisdom, timeliness are among the critical factors in determining the effects of speech for good or evil. Consequently, the friends need ever to be conscious of the significance of this activity which so distinguishes human beings from other forms of life, and they must exercise it judiciously. Their efforts at such discipline will give birth to an etiquette of expression worthy of the approaching maturity of the human race. Just as this discipline applies to the spoken word, it applies equally to the written word; and it profoundly affects the operation of the press.
The quality of freedom and of its expression — indeed, the very capacity to maintain freedom in a society — undoubtedly depends on the knowledge and training of individuals and on their ability to cope with the challenges of life with equanimity. As the beloved Master (Abdu’l Baha)has written: “And the honour and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.”
The spirit of liberty which in recent decades has swept over the planet with such tempestuous force is a manifestation of the vibrancy of the Revelation brought by Bahá’u’lláh. His own words confirm it. “The Ancient Beauty” (Baha’u’llah), He wrote in a soul-stirring commentary on His sufferings, “hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty.”
Might it not be reasonably concluded, then, that “true liberty” is His gift of love to the human race? Consider what Bahá’u’lláh has done: He revealed laws and principles to guide the free, He established an Order to channel the actions of the free, He proclaimed a Covenant* to guarantee the unity of the free.
Thus, we hold to this ultimate perspective: Bahá’u’lláh came to set humanity free. His Revelation is, indeed, an invitation to freedom — freedom from want, freedom from war, freedom to unite, freedom to progress, freedom in peace and joy.
To grasp the essence of these excerpts and to apply them in ones daily life is indeed a challenge for all.
* The Covenant constitutes the documents, in the form of Will and Testament, that has served to preserve and uphold the Unity of the Baha’i Faith.